The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Movie Review-Moneyball

By Joshua Knopp/managing editor

Baseball is a boring sport, but Moneyball isn’t about that.

Moneyball is about sabermetrics, a system of measuring the worth of baseball players based on the results of their at-bats.

The system came into prominence after the Oakland Athletics continued to win through the early 2000s despite a payroll that hovered around a relatively paltry $40 million.

Much of the credit for sabermetrics’ rise goes to Athletics general manager and Moneyball’s main character Billy Beane (Brad Pitt). In the film, Beane is introduced to the concept by Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a statistics prodigy with an economics degree from Yale.

The movie, and the book on which it’s based, focuses on the Athletics’ 2002 season, in which they won one more game than in the previous season despite losing stars Johnny Damon, Jason Giambi and Jason Isringhausen to free agency.

More than sabermetrics, Moneyball is about Beane, who is haunted through the film by his failed career as a player. After being hailed as a five-tool player by the New York Mets and turning down a scholarship to Stanford to play for them, Beane’s career “just didn’t pan out.” He dressed for four teams over a six-season career.

It is implied that Beane never believed in himself to the point that he hired Brand only after Brand admitted that he wouldn’t have drafted Beane until far later than his potential called for.

Anyone can look up the history of Oakland, sabermetrics and Billy Beane. Everyone should still find time for this movie. Moneyball dramatizes its subject’s 2002 season and doesn’t do much else, but what a dramatization it is.

Pitt is a star with a sky all to himself. Director Bennett Miller plays to his strength, pushing Pitt’s performance to the front as much as possible. Real footage and game calls are used when possible, adding gravity to the film by reminding viewers that they’re watching a true story.

The climax, Oakland’s record-setting 20th straight victory over Kansas City, is as romantically shot as any sporting event in cinema, proving that even baseball can be made mildly entertaining through good sound editing.

Romanticism is a strong theme in Moneyball. Though the protagonists spurn their scouts for overvaluing players’ tools and focus on the results a player gets when at bat, they ultimately fail to take what romance there is out of baseball.

If anything, Moneyball, and sabermetrics for that matter, celebrates the any-given-Sunday truism that makes baseball — not really entertaining or at all worth watching or playing — but at least unpredictable.

Clearly, Moneyball isn’t just for baseball fans. The movie compels beyond its story, featuring moments of comedy peppered throughout and a dynamic performance from Pitt. It runs a little long and doesn’t feature enough AC/DC, but that’s nitpicking.

It’s not a good baseball movie — if it were a good baseball movie, it’d be about hockey or soccer — it’s simply a good movie.

 
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